Aruba, August 20, 2019 –¬†When Roger Klug told his employer he was retiring, there was a shiver of panic among the bosses. Now 70 years old, Mr Klug is in his 47th year at Alexandria Industries, an aluminium company in rural Minnesota.

After almost five decades manufacturing industrial products for such diverse industries as solar power and defence, the company could ill-afford to lose Mr Klug’s expertise.
Like a number of US states, Minnesota has a labour shortage – specifically a skills shortage – and seeing his valuable experience disappear overnight would have left Alexandria’s management with big shoes to fill.

According to the US Department of Labor, since March 2018 US monthly job vacancies have outnumbered unemployed job seekers. As the baby boomers reach retirement, it seems there are not enough millennials in the jobs pipeline ready to step in.

“We have a labour shortage and it’s going to be a problem for the next couple of decades as the boomers leave the workforce,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

So, one answer for companies struggling to find staff is to ask workers like Mr Klug to put off retirement. He did.

“I only work two days a week, and I wanted to do something after I retired and it was just a no-brainer to stay. It’s not about the money. I enjoy the work,” he says.

Mr Klug still turns out high precision parts at Alexandria, and also fills in on other jobs at the company when necessary. But a key role is to pass on his skills to a new generation of staff at the company. It’s a trade-off that suits both sides. Mr. Klug gets to stay active; Alexandria Industries gets valuable training for new workers.

It does mean, though, that companies have to incentivise their mature employees through flexible hours, healthcare benefits, and keeping wages competitive.

“Our biggest challenge is the ability to staff the organisation so we can grow the business,” says Lynette Kluver, Alexandria Industry’s director of organisational development.

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